Sunday 7 May 2023

The highest form of prayer I can imagine

All sincere prayer is good; but some forms are higher than others - and it is reasonable to expect the form to develop as our consciousness develops through stages of life. 

As a child, our prayer tends to be petitionary (asking for things to happen) and also propitiatory - begging for things not to happen; including making deals with God ("if you do X for me, then I will do Y for you"). 

This form of praying could be characterized as excessively egotistical; in the sense that it is often the surface, personality and this-worldly 'me' that is talking to God. As if we knew better than God what God ought to be doing...

Later in life, we may become aware of this egotism and self-assertion as a major barrier, standing between us and God. 

Then we may aim for an ideal of 'sitting before God', and of prayer as silent, contemplative; an opening to allow God to 'take over'. The idea of removing the self, and our own will - so that only God's will is done. 

Yet this ideal of self-effacing prayer is so passive as to be aiming implicitly to delete our-selves from divine creation. We are implicitly assuming that it would be better if we personally did not exist, better if we never had been born - which means as if we were never created by God... 

Yet God did create us - and presumably He knew his business! He would hardly have created us if the ideal was then for us to disappear-into His creation! 

I may not actually be able to do it reliably; but I can see that what God would most want from us is not to sit in a passive, obedient merely to absorb and transmit divine creation (as if we were Not There); because this would add nothing to God's creation

Admittedly, self-effacing prayer removes the problem of sin, and stops us from actually fighting against God's creation and will. And this is desirable. 

But surely God created us for positive reasons, to do something good - not merely to refrain-from-doing bad things? 

God created us, I believe, so that we may choose to develop such as to join our personal creativity and love to that of God. 

We live so as to add-to creation, by our continuing existence. 

Yes, to do this efficiently (to avoid fighting our-selves) we would indeed need to eliminate sin and evil from our will - we need to cease to oppose divine creation - but we would also need to add-our-bit to creation. 

Therefore, I believe that prayer should ideally be personally active and creative; and therefore not ego-less, self-effacing and contemplative. 

Exactly this has been made possible to us through the work of Jesus Christ; by resurrection to eternal life in Heaven. In Heaven, and after resurrection, the ideal can become eternal reality. 

But how do we actually do this; here-and-now; during mortal life and on this side of resurrection? 

For a start, in this mortal life, it cannot be done in any complete and permanent way from our own will-power, effort and practice; because we are all indeed tainted by sin and egotism and selfishness that cannot be eradicated (or at least not without also eradicating the possibility of active, personal and creative prayer).

The highest form of prayer is, however, possible here-and-now - so long as we accept it will be brief and usually partial in degree; as are all attainments in this mortal life - yet still of permanent value. 

(Whatever actually is achieved in this temporary life on earth, will be retained, will be added to the totality of eternal divine creation; and then potentially experienced forever by those who are resurrected to Heaven.) 

In thought much is possible - and to any person - that is not possible in the constrained material realm. By knowing what we most want, what we are aiming-at; then we are able to attain it in our thinking

Thinking what? Well, for instance thinking about our own death and resurrection, and about Heaven. Thinking about our deepest Good desires - thinking on that we value most deeply and permanently; thinking on those we love, on what we value in those we love. 

Thinking on the truth, beauty and virtue of God's creation; and on our own thoughts and deeds that add to this creation (maybe in practice, but certainly adding to creation in thought - in potential). 

Thinking in a spirit of gratitude to God and affirmation of divine creation; with intent to contribute to it. 

In essence, perhaps; by thinking on joy and love in our own lives and ideal thoughts; and 'consecrating' these joys and loves to God's creation. 

In our imagination; adding our joys to the permanence, development, and eternal growth of creation. 

Such seems to me the highest form of prayer. 

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